By Amy Longsdorf
Updated August 04, 2005 06:00 AM
Credit: Christine Chew /Landov

Johnny Knoxville is making some out-of-work actors wish they’d skipped drama school and just dumped a Porta Potti on their heads. After all, the former Jackass is now a bona fide movie star, thanks to his lead role in The Dukes of Hazzard. And despite persistent gossip linking him to his Dukes costar Jessica Simpson, the Knoxville, Tenn., native (born Philip John Clapp) is a married father: He and wife Melanie have a daughter, Madison, 9. Knoxville, 34, talked recently about getting dramatic, his nightmarish Daisy Duke experience and those darn Jessica rumors.

What did your Jackass crew think of the rumors about you and Jessica Simpson?
You know, it’s the nature of the business, an unfortunate aspect of it. I was less concerned with what the guys thought, than, you know, there’s families involved. I have a 9-year-old daughter and a wife.

The rumors didn’t harm your marriage?
No, no, no. I mean, it’s obvious the stories aren’t true. My wife and I have a dialogue, and it’s like, “Okay, this is being written …”

People may have believed the rumors because you have an outlaw image.
I don’t think you have to be a wild guy to be attracted to Jessica. You could be blind or deaf, you know. But the unfortunate thing is, I love the tabloids. I always go and get them. And it’s like, “This is great … oh, this sucks!”

Were you intimidated about taking over the role of Luke Duke?
I wasn’t intimidated at all. We were more honored to be able to take this to the big screen. If any TV show was prime for the big screen, it’s this one, with its car stunts and bar fights and Daisy Duke’s shorts. Who doesn’t want to see those three things in a movie?

Ever try on those shorts?
No. The director (Jay Chandrasekhar) actually put on the Daisy Dukes one day, and it was one of the worst days of my life. Horrible, horrible legs. Horrible and hairy.

What’s your dream role?
Well, it would’ve been playing Johnny Cash in (the upcoming biopic) Walk the Line. But I hope Joaquin (Phoenix) does a good job.

What else have you been working on?
I just did a movie in my home state of Tennessee called Daltry Calhoun. It’s a drama, (but there are) a lot of funny moments in it. It’s basically about me trying to reconnect with the daughter I hadn’t seen in 14 years. It means a lot to me, because I am a father.

Are you a cool dad?
I hope I’m cool, but I think I’ve got a couple more years of coolness before it’s like, “Oh, Daddy.” She’s going to be a teenager, going, “Okay, Daddy, you’re funny, ha ha. Leave us alone – we’ve heard that joke 30 times … since breakfast.”